Saturday, December 09, 2006

Asian Games - Taiwan goes to quarterfinal with win over Lebanon

A brilliant shooting night gave Taiwan a convincing 86-72 victory over Lebanon and a seed in the Doha Asian Games quarterfinal.

Led by Tsun Wen-din and Tien Lei, who combined for 38 points and 28 rebounds, Taiwan had its best shooting performance in the tournament so far, making 13 three-pointers as a team with five players in double-figures, and led from start to finish in a do-or-die game for both teams.

The win guaranteed Taiwan's spot in the quarterfinal regardless of the result of its last group game vs. Uzbekistan on Dec. 10. And Lebanon, which has been ranked highly prior to the tournament, was virtually out of the final eight after its third loss in the Asian Games.

Taiwan opened the game with a 28-15 first quarter and increased the lead to 50-33 at the half, making almost every open shot versus Lebanon's 2-3 zone. Taiwan led by as many as 22 points in the first half as Chen Hsin-an and Tien Lei each scored 12 points.

Lebanon, which still looked rusty after a week in Doha, started the game without No.1 scorer Fadi El Khatib, who hurt his back in the last game vs. Kazakhstan. El Khatib did not enter the game until the third quarter and soon made his presence felt.

Lebanon kicked off the second half with a 12-4 run that cut the deficit to nine points. But Taiwan was determined to win this game and answered with a 11-2 run that pushed its lead back to 18 points in the end of the third quarter.

The best Lebanon could do in the final 10 minutes was cut the deficit to 11 points with less than 2:30 to go.

Tsun Wen-din led Taiwan with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Tien Lei had 17 points and 14 boards. Chen Hsin-an chipped in 14 points to go with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Yang Che-yi scored 14. Chen Shih-nian, who made three threes in the second half to hold off Lebanon's rally, had 11 in the game.

Lebanon was outrebounded by Taiwan, 47-40. Joe Vogel led with 20 points and 9 boards. Fadi El Khatib had 15 points in only 19 minutes of playing time.

With only one game left for each team in the preliminary stage, the status of Group E is clear with Qatar, Jordan, Iran and South Korea ranking from first to 4th.

China should be able to get the top seed in Group F. The second to 4th seed of the group remained unclear. If Japan lost to China tonight, it has to beat Kazakhstan in its last game to secure the No.2 seed.

If Taiwan beat Uzbekistan, it will be the No. 3 seed in Group F if Japan beat Kazakhstan. If Kazkahstan beat Japan by less than 18 points, Taiwan will be No. 4. All this means Taiwan's possible opponents are either Jordan or Qatar in the single-elimination quarterfinal.

If Kazakhstan beat Japan by more than 18 points, it will be No. 2 while Taiwan ranking third and Japan dropping to No. 4.